GOVERNMENT has urged farmers to embrace contract farming to ensure they are adequately resourced this coming summer cropping season.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
This was said by Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Livestock) deputy minister Paddy Zhanda last week in the National Assembly while responding to a question by Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke on how the government was going to assist farmers during the 2014-2015 farming season.
“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development hinted that he was looking for funds ($252 million) to add on to the purse that is there which has been put in place for farmers, and government is also encouraging farmers to engage in contract farming so that private financiers team up with farmers to supply them with inputs,” Zhanda said.
“As government, we know that we have other institutions or bodies who can give assistance to our farmers and we have asked them to come forward and help the farmers,” he said.
Zhanda said MPs who were financially sound should also assist their constituents with funding for their agricultural projects.
However, Zaka Central MP Paradzai Chakona (Zanu PF) said the suggestion by Zhanda that contract farming was the solution would not work because contractors were reluctant to work with farmers due to pricing structures.
“Stakeholders are reluctant to work with farmers because it is government which pegs the price to sell the produce,” Chakona said.
Zhanda said as far as contract farmers were concerned, the price of the produce would be set by the two parties.
“As a ministry we will respect the contract which has been made by the two parties. We will not peg the price for people who have made their own agreement. Government does not have enough money to support the farmers,” he said.
Last week, secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ringson Chitsiko told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture that 1,6 million households would be targeted for inputs which will include maize seed or small grains and fertiliser.
“We will also consider livestock farmers, particularly those doing cattle who may opt for a livestock pack to comprise of veterinary medicines, vaccines and dips. Financial arrangements are still being finalised by Treasury,” Chitsiko said.